Saudi Arabia and Qatar funding Syrian rebels

News Commentary – June 23, 2012

Saudi Arabia and Qatar are paying salaries to rebel forces fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an Arab diplomat told Reuters on Saturday.
“The payment has been going on for months and the agreement was made on April 2 by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, with logistical organization from Turkey where some Free Syrian Army factions are based,” said the diplomat, who requested anonymity.
“The point of this is to encourage as many factions of the Syrian army to defect and to organize the FSA, control it and prevent any extremist organizations from joining it”, the source told Reuters.
The funding has gone hand-in-hand with weapons paid for by the Gulf States and provided by the United States.
In addition to allowing a command centre to be set up, from where supply lines are being coordinated with rebel leaders inside Syria, Turkey also suffered the embarrassment of having one of its military aircraft shot down in Syrian airspace Friday.
Although Turkey has publicly vowed to take action over the incident, there has been a notable lack of bellicose rhetoric in its wake.
Some observers have suggested that Ankara wants to avoid igniting tensions, prematurely. Preferring instead to adopt a low-key approach in the steady yet covert build up to confrontation with Syria.
The funds from the Gulf states together with the influx of arms and ammunition have helped reinvigorate the rebellion against the Assad regime, which only a few weeks ago seemed on the point of collapse.
The payment of salaries to Syrian rebel forces was also discussed during Senator Joe Lieberman’s recent visit to Lebanon and Saudi Arabia.
According to a spokesperson for the Senator:

“Senator Lieberman has called for the US to provide robust and comprehensive support to the armed Syrian opposition, in co-ordination with our partners in the Middle East and Europe. He has specifically called for the US to work with our partners to provide the armed Syrian opposition with weapons, training, tactical intelligence, secure communications and other forms of support to change the military balance of power inside Syria.

“Senator Lieberman also supports the idea of ensuring that the armed opposition fighters receive regular and sufficient pay, although he does not believe it is necessary for the United States to provide this funding itself directly.”

However the salaries paid to rebel fighters with funding from the Gulf states, the weapons supplied by the U.S. and the command centre based in Turkey raise questions about the  extent of outside involvement in the Syrian opposition.
Are the opposition fighters really authentic opponents of the regime in Damascus fighting to free Syria from Assad’s rule? Or are they simply mercenaries lured to fight by the prospect of payment?
It’s a question the Western media largely fails to address: how authentic is the “Syrian opposition” movement when so many outside parties – the U.S., Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – are involved?
Is this really a genuine indigenous rebellion? Or is it, as the Syrian government claims a “foreign-backed terrorist” campaign?    
The fact that Senator Joe Lieberman is calling for “robust and comprehensive support to the armed Syrian opposition” raises further questions about the degree of Zionist involvement. If only because Senator Lieberman often seems to put Israel’s interests before America’s.
Is this what is motivating his call “robust and comprehensive support to the armed Syrian opposition”? 
Finally we should ask: if the US and its allies have their way what exactly would the overthrow of President Assad really bring?
Will it bring the same sort of “liberation” that Libya now endures? Where rival militias now hold sway over a fragmented nation? Where in the past few days alone over 100 Libyans have died in tribal clashes in the west of the country.
Like the ‘Syrian rebels’, the Libyan militias helped in the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi – with extensive help and encouragement from Western powers. With Gaddafi gone however, Libya now lies fractured and forgotten while Western attention has shifted to Syria.
Leaving Libya and its rich oil reseves now wide open to exploitation by Western oil cartels. 
Call it ‘Regime change’ by stealth: it may bring civil conflict but the end result is the same. A potential adversary to the expansion of Western interests is rendered impotent through the covert promotion of internal strife.
Does a similar fate now await Syria? Or will Russia, China and Iran intervene on its behalf?

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